Wars have been part of the history of mankind and in spite of their destructive nature they have been fought between nations without refrain and still continue to happen with all their diabolical repercussions, notwithstanding the efforts of the international community through United Nations to prevent them. They have been provoked and imposed on smaller and weaker nations by the bigger and stronger ones either to subjugate them or to establish their hegemony. There is a saying that weakness invites aggression and the best way to achieve peace is to prepare for war. This irrefutable reality provides the rationale and justification for nations to take care of their defence needs in consonance with the level of threat that they are faced with.

Pakistan unfortunately has faced credible threat to its security from India ever since its inception. Inebriated by its bigger size and the military might at its command it has imposed three wars on Pakistan. It is said that the worth and character of a nation is tested during times of adversity and war. The 1965 war between India and Pakistan was the one during which the armed forces of Pakistan and the nation proved their worth and character through their unprecedented unity and bravery to thwart the nefarious designs of the enemy and to prove to the aggressor as well as the world that it was not only the military might that played a decisive role in victory and defeat but the small nations imbued with and fired by the will and determination to spare no effort and sacrifice in defending themselves could also turn the tables on the mightier foe.

I still remember a brief speech by President of Pakistan Field Marshall Muhammad Ayub Khan on radio around mid-day on sixth of September 1965 informing the nation about the Indian aggression in these words “The enemy has opened a war front of its own choice and its army has attacked Lahore after crossing the international border. Our armed forces are fully capable of defending the mother land and will not spare any sacrifice to thwart the designs of the enemy. The 130 million people of Pakistan whose hearts are resonating with the voice ‘There is nobody worth worshiping except God’ will not rest until the guns of the enemy are silenced”. This enthusiastic and zeal-inspiring speech by him had an electrifying impact on the masses who listened to it on the radio. Rising above their linguistic, religious and regional differences, they forged an impregnable and unprecedented national unity. Farmers, labourers, businessmen, civil servants and employees of the Civil Defence exhibited extreme patriotism in supporting the valiant armed forces. This national unity was undoubtedly nurtured and reinforced by the war songs sung by icons like Noor Jahan and Mehdi Hasan. These artists fought a unique war by creating a wave of patriotism and nationalism among the people. The songs sung by them also raised the morale of the soldiers fighting on the front and instilled new zeal in them to defend the mother land.

Pakistan armed forces were fighting a war to defend the territorial integrity of the country against a formidable enemy. They did defend the country in a befitting manner. When the war ended Lahore and Sialkot were far away from the reach of the enemy. The enemy suffered heavy losses in terms of military hardware. The tank battle at Chawinda in which India lost 100 tanks, will forever haunt military strategist of India. Our Air Force decidedly had an upper hand and destroyed 110 Indian planes ( 35 of them in dog-fights) as against its own loss of 19 planes; a fact corroborated by the independent international sources. Downing of five Indian planes in a single dog-fight over Sargodha by M.M.Alam wrote a new history in the air war fare of the world. The achievements of our soldiers on the battleground particularly on the Lahore and Sialkot fronts not only baffled the enemy but also proved the invincibility of the faith-inspired fighting force like the Pakistan Army. The Pakistan armed forces whose martyrs had written a new history with their blood and defended the territorial integrity against an enemy, five times bigger than its size and strength deservedly earned unqualified gratitude and appreciation of the nation.

The outcome of this military confrontation between the two arch enemies can best be judged by a report compiled by the Indian Defence Ministry in 1992 and revealed by The Times of India. The paper contented that the contemporary accounts, generated by a jingoistic press, saw the war as a spectacular victory on almost every front. But the truth ---which cannot be hidden despite the best efforts of the official historians--- is that the war was, in the words of one of India’s most distinguished commanders, Lt. Gen Harbakhsh Singh “a catalogue of lost victories” for India. Newsweek magazine eulogizing the ability of Pakistan Army to hold off the much larger Indian Army said “By just the end of the week, in fact, it was clear that the Pakistanis were more than holding their own”.

Since 1965, 6th September is celebrated as Defence Day of Pakistan to express gratitude of the nation to the martyrs of the war, keep the same spirit alive, apprise the younger generation of the achievements of the benefactors of the nation and to eulogize their acts of valour and sacrifices that preserved our independence. The commemorations are also meant to reiterate the resolve of the nation not to hesitate from rendering any sacrifice in case it is ever subjected to any aggression. The sacrifices rendered by the armed forces in warding off the existentialist threat posed by terrorism also deserve unqualified gratitude and appreciation of the nation. The martyrs undoubtedly are the pride of the nation.

This year the Defence and Martyrs Day has a special significance in view of the Indian action to end special status of IOK and making it part of the Indian union which has brought the two nuclear neighbours face to face with each other threatening regional peace and security. This makes it imperative to revive the spirit of 1965 war. It is therefore encouraging to note that the Pakistan Army wants to observe the Defence and Martyrs Day by reaching out to the families of the shaheeds and it has also released slogans like ‘ Ayein Chalain Shaheed Kay Ghar’ and “ Kashmir Baney Ga Pakistan” The slogans reflect the mood and determination of the nation and Army to remember their martyrs as well as not to relent their efforts until Kashmir becomes a part of Pakistan. The plan also includes paying special tributes to the martyrs of 1965 war by all the broadcasting networks besides playing of national anthem. Like always, Pakistan Army will also organize full dress rehearsal at Fortress Stadium Lahore where defence equipment will be put on display. Similar parades will also be held in all the provincial capitals. It is meant to send a loud and clear message to the enemy that Pakistan Army and nation were fully equipped and prepared to protect the country.

The writer is a freelance columnist.

ashpak10@gmail.com

It is said that the worth and character of a nation is tested during times of adversity and war.